City 3.0: The Land of Clean and Efficient Energy

Share Button

Maybe it’s ‘City 3.0.’ Or maybe it’s the lingering memory of SuperStorm Sandy. Whatever the case, for city leaders electric power is a big agenda item, as evidenced by this year’s gathering of U.S. Conference of Mayors San Francisco.

Climate, resiliency, and the value of energy efficiency are among the topics the mayors focused on in speeches, presentations and resolutions during the June 19-22 event.

While there are concrete reasons for their attention to clean energy tech — the environment, energy economics, keeping the lights on — larger forces may also be at work.

Cities have entered a new 3.0 period where they “must function and be governed in a more innovative, effective and efficient way,” Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and conference president, told the gathering.

City 1.0 he said, was built around ports, rivers and freight rail. City 2.0 was about the industrial revolution, big factories and industry. And now in 3.0 cities have become “hubs of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.”

Two cities won top kudos for their 3.0 efforts with energy. Phoenix, Arizona won the Climate Protection Award for a large city and Blacksburg, Virginia for a small city.

Phoenix was recognized for its Energize Phoenix Program, a three-year greening of buildings along the 10-square mile area surrounding the city’s light rail corridor.

Phoenix invested $31 million in utility funding from APS and $25 million from the Department of Energy and achieved $12 million in annual energy savings.

The city offered generous rebates and financing to multi-family and small-to-medium commercial buildings, hard-to-reach sectors for energy efficiency.

Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, was honored for its Solarize Blacksburg effort, designed to make solar energy more affordable and less complicated for the average citizen. To date, 21 other Virginia communities have followed the Blacksburg’s lead and created “Solarize” programs in their own communities.

“A lot of cities have gone far ahead of states on this issue,” President Obama said at the event’s June 19 climate luncheon. “You’re making a difference right now. You’re not waiting for Congress.”

Read’s free guide: “Community Microgrids: A Guide for Mayors and City Leaders Seeking Clean, Reliable and Locally Controlled Energy.

Share Button

About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.